On July 6, the ABC program ‘The View’ featured a segment that grossly misrepresented the educational requirements and annual salary of dental hygienists. As the national association representing the interests of more than 150,000 dental hygienists, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) seeks to clarify these misrepresentations immediately.
In a letter to ABC, the ADHA included the official ADHA policy defining a dental hygienist as, “a preventive oral health professional who has graduated from an accredited dental hygiene program in an institution of higher education, licensed in dental hygiene.”1 In 49 states, one must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program in order to qualify for licensure as a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists are qualified to provide educational, clinical, research, administrative, and therapeutic services supporting total health through the promotion of optimal oral health.
ADHA included the following education data to dispute the inaccurate statement made on ‘The View’ that a degree is not required to become a dental hygienist:
• There are 334 entry-level dental hygiene programs in the U.S.2;
o 290 of these offer associate degrees
o 53 offer baccalaureate degrees
• There are also 20 programs that offer either a master’s degree in dental hygiene or related health sciences.2
• According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of dental hygienists in 2010 was $68,250 annually.3
In light of this information, ADHA asks that ABC and ‘The View’ provide the American public with an accurate portrayal of dental hygienists and the vital role they play in Americans’ oral and total health.
ADHA invites ABC and other interested parties to visit our website, as well as the BLS’ occupational outlook handbook,3 for more information about the dental hygiene profession.
ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional interests of more than 150,000 dental hygienists across the country. Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals, licensed in dental hygiene, who provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health. For more information about ADHA, dental hygiene or the link between oral health and general health, visit ADHA at http://www.adha.org/.
1. American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) Policy Manual. Available at: http://www.adha.org/downloads/ADHA_Policies.pdf.
2. American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA), Dental Hygiene Education: Curricula, Program Enrollment and Graduate Information, April 2012. Available at: http://www.adha.org/downloads/edu/dh_ed_fact_sheet.pdf.
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dental-hygienists.htm.